Following one's nose 1

Life-enabling charts

In response to my call for positive examples, reader Merle H. sent in an example of how good charts can make our lives simpler and easier.

All of us have seen the following presentation of air travel data.

Travelocity Not trying to pick on Travelocity - it's the same format whether you use Expedia or any of the airline sites.  For those customers who are looking to decide what dates to travel so as to minimize their air fare, this format is very cumbersome to use.

Flight_chart What about this fare chart at

As you mouse along the line chart, the average fare for each day is visible.  Clicking on a particular day will fix the departure or return dates.

So much easier, isn't it?

A few caveats, though:

  • Instead of just providing the historical averages, they should consider including information on variability, such as bars that indicate the middle 50% or 75% of prices.  Also, what about a sliding control for customers to decide which period of past history the averages should use?  More recent data may be more representative.
  • This particular feature appeals to the price-sensitive, date-flexible customer segment.  Not everyone will pick itineraries based on those criteria.  There is an easy fix. If some controls are available for customers to indicate other preferences, e.g. exclude all British Airways flights, include only evening flights, etc., and the chart can update itself based on such selections, then the chart becomes a lot more flexible, and useful to many more customers.
  • As with many automatically generated charts, the chosen labels on the vertical axis are laughable.  That should be relatively easy to fix, you'd think.
A great start.  I happen to notice that Travelocity has a beta feature that shows a similar chart.  A revolution in how travel sites present data to us is long overdue. 


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I would argue that a column chart would do a better job: the users are not looking for trends, they are looking for low fares that meet their travel arrangements.


We at ,Spanish airline, are using the column chart from long time ago.

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